SEOUL, masked mourners in South Korea gave speeches and laid flowers in front of the Seoul mayor’s coffin during his funeral on Monday, while a live online broadcast drew a mix of messages of condolence and insult.
Since Park Won was soon found dead Friday in a wooded area in northern Seoul, the South Korean public has been sharply divided over how to commemorate his death due to media reports that one of his secretaries had filed a complaint with the police alleging sexual harassment. Police have confirmed that a complaint has been filed against the Park, but has not provided details.
Reports, however, have tarnished the image of the Park, a liberal who built his career as a reform-minded politician and a champion of women’s rights. He was hailed as a possible candidate to run for president in 2022.
The park’s funeral committee had planned to hold a large-scale memorial near the city of Seoul. But more than 561,000 people signed a petition opposing such a funeral and calling for a peaceful family funeral.
In the end, authorities allowed only about 100 people to attend Monday’s funeral in City Hall and asked others to watch it on YouTube.
The ceremony began with silent tributes and a video on the life of the Park. Members of the masked orchestra, all dressed in black, played Air in G String, before the co-chairs of the funeral committee, including the chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, Lee Hae-chan, gave speeches.
The mayor’s daughter, Park Da, cried when she said she felt sorry and grateful for the city officials who she said must have been more shocked than anyone since her father’s death.
Thanks to them, our family is overcoming difficult times little by little, she said.
A sympathetic messaging message was posted online during the live broadcast, including those read Please, rest in peace, I am heartbroken and You are the best chairman.
But as the funeral continued, his critics also left messages such as Shame on you, Hippocrates, and What are you doing with taxpayer money?
The funeral ended after Park’s family and others bowed deeply and laid white flowers before a flower coffin stuck with his adapted photo of the funeral. When the coffin was moved from the building for a cremation and burial later on Monday, some of his supporters called and shouted Mr. Chairman! Mr. Mayor and we love you. “
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